A pedestrian-friendly town centre in North Stockton and a drawcard coastal walk from Stockton to Tomaree Headland is proposed by Port Stephens and Newcastle Councils.

The Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy grew from discussions with the Fern Bay community and a workshop with councillors from both Newcastle and Port Stephens. It is a 20-year blueprint for the growing area between the Hunter River and Stockton Beach.

The strategy identifies North Stockton as the site of a future town centre and calls for new accommodation developments to support local tourism.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy identifies opportunities to create a pedestrian-friendly town centre and mixed-use planning provisions, diverse housing, connected open spaces and community amenities.

Developed by both Newcastle and Port Stephens councils, the joint strategy is a fantastic outcome.

There are multiple large land holdings in the area that have potential to create positive outcomes for the community and we will work hand in hand with Port Stephens to plan for them in the years ahead,” Councillor Nelmes said.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said the decision marked the beginning of an exciting time for the residents of Fern Bay and North Stockton.

The creation of more housing, access to better facilities, and more transport options will ensure this town truly thrives,” Mayor Palmer said.

It’s been a wonderfully successful collaboration between our Port Stephens Council and City of Newcastle teams, and we’ll continue to work together on the best outcomes for the Fern Bay North Stockton communities into the future.”

The strategy includes a ferry terminal at North Stockton, duplication of Nelson Bay Road with traffic lights at the intersection of Vardon Road, and upgrades to paths, bus stops, and transport.

Additional points
  • Attracting heritage and nature-based tourism including a coastal walk – featuring boardwalks and observation decks – from Tomaree Headland to Stockton
  • Improving access to useable open spaces and well-designed community facilities
  • Prioritising safe and convenient travel by walking, cycling and public transport
  • Growing a resilient coastal community with access to liveable and diverse housing

Last November (2019), planning staff from both councils attended the Fern Bay Fiesta at Fern Bay community hall to provide information on the strategy.

City of Newcastle and Port Stephens Council adopted the Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy at their Council meetings in March and April 2020 respectively.